fb

Grammar Exercise: Past Perfect and Past Simple

Review our page on how to use the had done (Past Perfect) tense, and the notes below.

When we use the Past Perfect

1. Use the past perfect to give the background when you tell a story in the past. After giving the background of a story (like a flashback) and you return to the chronological sequence of events, use the past simple again.

2. Use the past perfect in reported speech when the direct speech is in the past simple or present perfect. ”I enjoyed my time there” (direct speech); he said that he had enjoyed his time there (reported speech).
Use the past perfect continuous in the same way as the past perfect: in reported speech (when the direct speech is either past continuous or present perfect continuous).

3. You can also use the past perfect continuous as the background to a story. (“They had been living in a small flat for years when they decided to buy a house.”)

4. Use the past perfect in third conditional sentences.
Use it also to express a regret about a past situation or event. (“I wish you had told me earlier!”)

When we don’t use the Past Perfect

You don’t need to use the past perfect tense if it’s obvious which event happened first in a sequence of events.


Past Perfect and Past Simple

Choose the correct answer.

Speak English Fluently!

Hi! I’m Clare, an English teacher and the founder of this site.

I can help you speak English more easily! Start here for English fluency:
The Fast Phrase Finder – The world’s FIRST spreadsheet of fluency phrases. Get your first 10 English fluency phrases here!